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Indonesian Scientist Warns of Another Huge Quake
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An Indonesian scientist has predicted that a huge earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale is likely to rock Sumatra in the foreseeable future.


Earthquake scientist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said the two huge earthquakes that devastated Aceh province and Nias Island in 2004 and 2005 were not the end of the earthquake cycle on Sumatra island, English daily The Jakarta Post reported Thursday.


The data recorded by a global positioning system until June 2006 showed the earlier earthquakes were reflections of underground forces pushing the island in different directions.


"This movement will accumulate the energy from a huge earthquake source under the Mentawai Islands, whose power could reach up to a 9 magnitude (quake) or even higher," Danny said.


While it was impossible to predict when the earthquake would hit, it would likely affect the Mentawai Islands and Sumatra's west coast -- from West Sumatra province to Bengkulu.


Danny has been working with the California Institute of Technology's (Caltech) Tectonic Observatory since 1991 on the active tectonic plates in Sumatra.


An extremely large earthquake hits Sumatra every 100 to 300 years, he said. Recorded earthquakes followed by tsunamis occurred in the 1300s, 1600s, 1797, 1833 and 2004.


The last earthquake centered under Mentawai measured 8.2 on the Richter scale in 1797 and caused 10-meter high waves, he said,


This data was verified by Danny and Caltech with tests they made on coral.


The historical and coral records show the earth crust's compression has reached the last phase or the tension release phase, which indicates another big earthquake is due.


Twenty-seven GPS units have been installed throughout Sumatra but are aimed at research and are yet to be connected to the province's early warning system.  


(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2006)


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